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Peter Matthiessen

Pressing on after the Holocaust: In Paradise by Peter Matthiessen

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As a pre-teen, I went through a phase where I read every novel I could about the Holocaust. Late at night I would hide under my blanket with a flashlight, pouring over the devastating details of ghettos and death camps, devouring stories about young girls like me facing an evil that seemed so impossible when compared to my modern, American, middle-class life. In eighth grade I remember visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, ignoring the signs that read “Do Not Touch,” and running my fingers along the inside of a boxcar—on loan from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in Poland—thinking that it was somehow important to touch the rough wood, that I was paying tribute to the people who had…

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